Archaeological finds indicate the human presence in Zadar area in Paleolithic. It is assumed that the first inhabitants were ancient Mediterranean people. The name Zadar was derived from the word Jadera, which probably came from the pre-Indoeuropean language.
Zadar is first mentioned in the 4th century BC as Jader, the Illyrian settlement. In the 1st century BC, Zadar had become the Roman municipality, developing the Roman urban characteristics during following centuries.
In the 7th century, Zadar became the capital of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia.
Larger settling of Croats in the Zadar area occured in the 10th century.
The city had been ruled by the Venetians from the 13th until the end of the 18th century. Zadar's architecture and culture were strongly influenced by Venetians. Many preserved Gothic churches and buildings have remained as a reminder of the long Venetian rule.
After the Venetian fall in 1797, the Austrians took over the governance of the city until 1918, excepting the period of French rule that took place from the 1806 til 1813.
Church of St. Donat - the most recognizable symbol of Zadar is a charming Church of St. Donat built in the 9th century. It is also the most-known monument of Early Medieval architecture in Croatia.
Because of excellent acoustic characteristics, its interior is nowadays used as a venue for concerts of classical music.
Cathedral of St. Anastasia - the largest cathedral of Dalmatia is built in Romanesque style in the 12th century. Cathedral boasts the beautiful reliefs on the portals.
Church and Monastery of St. Francis - the oldest Dalmatian Gothic church was built in the 13th century. The sacristy of the church keeps precious art collection.
Legend says, St. Francis of Assisi had found the refuge in the monastery in the 13th century.
Church of St Grisogono - a three-nave basilica with three apses richly decorated in the Romanesque style. The church was dedicated to the patron saint of Zadar, St. Grisogono.
Arsenal - Arsenal was built in the 18th century during the Venetian rule as the warehouse for the military fleet. Today this site represents an indoor Mediterranean city square, a popular venue of various events.